The Province of Ontario is working to ease the financial burden on students, and make sure they can complete their studies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province has made online learning supports, including year-end exams, available to postsecondary institutions, in addition to deferring payments for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).
“Students and their families make great sacrifices to attend postsecondary education and it is incumbent on us to do everything we can to ensure this academic year is not put in jeopardy,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, in a release.
“I want to thank our postsecondary institutions for their leadership in adopting alternative ways for students to study and take exams, while ensuring they practice physical distancing and stay safe.”
To be sure that students can successfully complete the academic year, the province and eCampusOntario have made digital learning supports available to postsecondary institutions.
Available in both French and English, these supports will provide publicly-assisted colleges and universities with the technology they need to conduct their year-end assessments, while preserving student privacy academic assessment integrity.
This is in addition to the six-month interest-free moratorium on loan repayments that was previously announced by the province.
“During this unprecedented period, it is important to help students and current borrowers, so students can continue with their studies and borrowers do not have to worry about making loan payments,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“Our government is doing everything it can to ensure our college and university students can take their exams and complete their school year while studying remotely.”
To support borrowers during this time, loan repayments will be subject to the moratorium until September 30.
This means that for now, borrowers will not be required to make any loan payments and interest will not accrue on their OSAP loans. If they so choose, borrowers can still make one-time payments via their online account or online banking to repay loans faster.
Payments during this period will go entirely towards their loan principal.
Beyond these adjustments, Ontario will work with other partners who may be interested in offering digital learning, including Indigenous Institutes and private career colleges.
Supports will be accessible on an as-needed basis, and will be limited to those courses and programs where formal exams are required.
Further, the province is distributing $25 million in additional funding to publicly-assisted colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes to help address each institution’s most pressing needs in the wake of the coronavirus.
These needs may include deep cleaning, purchasing medical supplies or offering mental health supports.